The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they unfolded.
PA: Peace talks can’t happen without pressing Israel
The Palestinian Authority foreign ministry calls on governments trying to arrange a meeting for Israeli and Palestinian leaders to first pressure Israel into halting settlement construction and “violations” against the Palestinian people.
“At a time of continuous international and regional activity to jumpstart negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians, Netanyahu’s radical government continues its escalation of aggression, settlements and daily crimes against the Palestinian people,” the ministry says in a statement.
“The ministry requests of those who have taken it upon themselves to push forward the train of negotiations and peace, to [end] their silence, and direct their pressure toward the Israeli government to compel it to end its settlement construction, violations and executions against the Palestinian people, in order to provide a proper environment to ensure the success of efforts to revive negotiations.”
First UN food aid in two years reaches over 30,000 Iraqis
The UN says it has delivered food supplies to more than 30,000 residents of Qayyarah for the first time in two years after Iraqi forces expelled jihadists from the northern town.
Government forces on August 25 pushed the Islamic State group out of Qayyarah, considered strategic for a planned offensive against the jihadists’ last Iraqi stronghold of Mosul further north.
Qayyarah has been “inaccessible for over two years,” the UN World Food Program (WFP) says in a statement.
“The people of Qayyarah… are suffering extreme hunger with scarce access to food supplies,” says WFP’s country director for Iraq, Sally Haydock.
WFP says the food delivered in the past week includes dates, beans and canned food as well as rations containing lentils, rice, flour and vegetable oil, enough to last for a month.
The town is “in a dire state” with “black smoke” rising from oilfields around it that were set ablaze by the jihadists during fighting, WFP says. “Safe drinking water, electricity and medical services remain nearly impossible to access.”
Abbas rules out meeting with Netanyahu in Moscow
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says he will not meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Moscow, AFP reports.
Abbas’s denial comes after Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, who is currently in Israel and met yesterday with Netanyahu, tells the Russian media that “contacts are in progress” for a summit in Moscow.
“Vigorous efforts [are being made] in all directions,” Bogdanov said.
The statement from the PA president also follows a denial of such a meeting by a PA official, who told The Times of Israel yesterday that Ramallah has yet to receive a response from Israel regarding Palestinian preconditions for talks — a commitment to a settlement freeze and the release of prisoners. These preconditions, the source said, would have to be met before any direct meeting between Abbas and Netanyahu.
Netanyahu’s office said yesterday that “he is always ready to meet with President Abbas directly and without preconditions.”
Hebrew University ranked best in Israel, #148 in world
The new QS World University Rankings places the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in the top spot in Israel, and number 148 worldwide. The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is ranked 198th in the world, Tel Aviv University is placed 203rd and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev is 259th.
“We’re delighted that the Hebrew University continues to receive international recognition as a world academic leader,” says its president Prof. Menahem Ben-Sasson, in a statement released by the school today.
The QS rankings are among the most popular university rankings, and include an evaluation of more than 4,000 academic institutions. The criteria it measures include the quality of teaching and of research, and a school’s international reputation.
Abbas: Netanyahu wanted to delay Moscow talks
Abbas says a meeting with Netanyahu in Moscow on Friday was ruled out when an aide to the prime minister suggested postponing the summit.
“Netanyahu’s representative proposed to delay this meeting to a later date. So the meeting will not happen, but I am ready and I declare again that I will go to any meeting,” Abbas says at a joint press conference in Warsaw with Polish President Andrzej Duda.
IDF still searching for 3 people in Tel Aviv garage collapse
Soldiers from the IDF’s Home Front Command is still searching for three people missing in the rubble of yesterday’s deadly collapse of a four-story garage in Tel Aviv.
“The location efforts are being conducted along the edges of the building, based on the assumption that the workers who were in there as the building collapsed ran to the sides to take shelter,” the deputy commander of the Home Front Command, Lt. Col. Yonatan Raz, tells the Walla website.
Raz says that the search has also involved speaking to those who were in contact with the missing, in the hope of working out more precisely where they were most likely to have been when the building collapsed.
Court rules PM cannot ban Shabbat work for Israel Railways staff
The High Court issues an interim ruling stopping Netanyahu from barring Israel Railways staff from working on Shabbat, Channel 10 reports.
The injunction comes following a petition by Meretz leader Zehava Galon at the weekend.
“The court must put an end to the prime minster’s unbridled frenzy on the backs of thousands of passengers,” she said Saturday, after Netanyahu delayed infrastructure work during the Jewish day of rest. The work was carried out on Saturday night and Sunday instead, causing major disruptions to train users.
UK court jails radical Muslim preacher for promoting IS
A UK court sentences one of Britain’s best-known radical Islamic preachers to 5½ years in prison for encouraging support for the Islamic State group.
The 49-year-old Anjem Choudary, who has been one of the best-known faces of radical Islam in Britain for years, was convicted in July. Authorities see the firebrand as a key voice radicalizing young Muslims.
He gained attention for headline-grabbing statements that provoked outrage but stayed within the bounds of the law, such as protesting outside the US Embassy on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
But the London-born preacher ran into trouble in 2014 after his name appeared on an oath declaring the legitimacy of the “proclaimed Islamic Caliphate State.”
Choudary says the oath was made without his knowledge.
Body found at collapsed Tel Aviv building, bringing death toll to 4
A fourth body has been pulled from the underground parking garage of a Tel Aviv building under construction, which collapsed yesterday morning in the Ramat Hahayal neighborhood of Tel Aviv.
IDF search and rescue troops and other emergency personnel are trying to locate several other construction workers believed trapped when the four-story garage caved in.
.@Mdais video from the scene of the rescue efforts from the garage collapse in Tel Aviv pic.twitter.com/CqVYSUbr8i
— Judah Ari Gross (@JudahAriGross) September 6, 2016
Jublis mayor remanded for 8 days after killing resident
A Rishon Lezion court issues an eight-day extension in the remand of Jublis Mayor Salam Amer, who shot dead a local resident during a fight on the steps of the Galilee town’s municipal building yesterday.
Amer claims that he shot dead Munir Nabouani in self-defense after he came at him with an ax. Representatives of the two families have agreed not to attack each other for a month-long period in order to reach a reconciliation, Army Radio reports.
Police probe British MP over anti-Semitic social media posts
A British lawmaker who was suspended from the UK Labour Party for anti-Semitic comments posted on social media is being investigated by police.
Naz Shah, who was readmitted to the party in July, could be charged with inciting religious hatred, an offense punishable by up to seven years in prison, the Daily Mail reports.
Shah, 42, was suspended in May for sharing a post on Facebook suggesting Israel’s Jews should be relocated to the US and tweeting the hashtag “#IsraelApartheid” and a quote saying, “Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.” Another post called on her friends to back a poll criticizing Israel.
The posts had appeared in early August 2014, during the Gaza war between Israel and Hamas. She later apologized for the posts and spoke at a synagogue in Leeds, close to her Bradford constituency.
Son of Netanya mayor suspected in city graft probe
The son of Netanya Mayor Miriam Feinberg is suspected of receiving bribes and passing them along to close associates in return for advancing construction projects in the city, Army Radio says.
Tsafrir Feinberg is one of four suspects in the case who had their remand extended today. Municipal officials are also expected to be questioned under caution as part of the investigation into the alleged affair.
Dutch PM: We have to preserve two-state solution
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte says the two-state solution is key to ending the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and should therefore be safeguarded.
Rutte tells a joint press conference with Netanyahu in The Hague that the two leaders talked openly about the conflict, Walla reports. The Dutch PM also expresses his regret at the loss of Israeli and Palestinian lives.
He says that violence cannot lead to a solution, and only highlights the need for a political agreement leading to a Palestinian state side by side with Israel, based on the 1967 borders. Therefore, he says, the world must preserve the two-state solution in every way, which means an end to settlement construction, home demolitions and incitement.
Saudi Arabia’s top cleric says Iran’s leaders ‘not Muslims’
Saudi Arabia’s top cleric is revving up the kingdom’s rhetoric against Iran, saying in comments published today that Tehran’s leaders are “not Muslims,” in response to rancorous remarks from Iran’s supreme leader.
The remarks by Grand Mufti Abdul-Aziz Al-Sheik come a day after Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused Saudi authorities of killing Muslims injured during last year’s crush of crowds at the hajj pilgrimage.
The top Saudi cleric is quoted by a Jeddah newspaper as saying that Khamenei’s remarks are “not surprising” because Iranians are descendants of “Majuws”— a term that refers to Zoroastrians and those who worship fire. Zoroastrianism is a monotheistic religion predating Christianity and Islam and was the dominant religion in Persia before the Arab conquest.
“We must understand they are not Muslims, for they are the descendants of Majuws, and their enmity toward Muslims, especially the Sunnis, is very old,” Al-Sheik says.
The September 2015 stampede and crush of pilgrims killed at least 2,426 people, according to an Associated Press count. Iran had the highest of death toll of any country, with the loss of 464 pilgrims.
Police say Palestinian among dead in Tel Aviv building collapse
Police say one of the four people killed in yesterday’s building collapse in Tel Aviv is a 34-year-old Palestinian from Bayt Rima in the northern West Bank.
The identities of the remaining victims have yet to be released. Rescue workers are still trying to free several workers trapped when the four-story underground garage collapsed.
Moment of building collapse in Tel Aviv https://t.co/EsoBUqj3wO pic.twitter.com/QhMzRboRze
— Luke Tress (@luketress) September 5, 2016
— Judah Ari Gross
PM ready to meet Abbas ‘without preconditions’
Netanyahu says he is willing “to meet with Abbas for direct talks without preconditions at any time,” hours after the Palestinian leader said the two were due to meet in Moscow on Friday, but that the meeting was called off when one of the Israeli PM’s aides sought to delay it.
Speaking from The Hague during a two-day visit to the Netherlands, Netanyahu says: “This is something I’ve said a hundred times and I will repeat here. I’m not choosy about the place — whether it’s here in the Netherlands or in Moscow is no problem. It could absolutely be in Moscow. I said as much to President Putin and I said it just yesterday to Russian envoy Bogdanov. ”
Netanyahu added: “The main question is whether Abu Mazen [Abbas] is willing to meet without preconditions. We are hearing conflicting versions. Just yesterday, Palestinian spokesmen made it clear that they are willing to meet, but have conditions — the release of prisoners and they also want to know the outcome of the talks in advance. If Abbas wants to meet for direct talks without preconditions I’m ready at any time. I have been calling for this for seven years, and if he agrees to it there will be a meeting.”
Dawabsha relative trapped inside collapsed Tel Aviv building
A cousin of the Dawabsha family, whose mother, father and one child were killed last year in an arson attack by suspected Jewish terrorists, is reportedly among those trapped in the rubble of a collapsed four-story parking garage in Tel Aviv.
Palestinian news agency Ma’an names the man as 28-year-old Muhammad Taleb Dawabsha, a father of two.
Israeli schools to mark expulsion of Jews from Arab states
Israeli schools will mark the expulsion of Jews from Arab lands in a special day of remembrance on November 30, the Education Ministry announces.
Throughout the day there will be ceremonies and films as well as discussion on “perpetuating the legacy of Jews from the East,” Walla reports.
“From now on, the children of Israel will learn the story of the Egoz ship [which sank in 1944 while carrying dozens of Jews from Morocco to pre-state Palestine] and the story of the wondrous Zionist journey of Oriental Jews,” says Education Minister Naftali Bennett.
US ship in ‘unsafe’ encounter with Iranian vessel in Gulf
A US Navy ship is forced to change course in the Persian Gulf following an “unsafe and unprofessional” encounter with an Iranian vessel.
Reuters names the American ship as the USS Firebolt, a patrol vessel that ABC News says was escorting the USS Eisenhower, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.
According to Reuters, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards ship sailed directly in front of the USS Firebolt at a distance of some 100 yards, forcing it to maneuver away.
Police name Palestinian killed in Tel Aviv building collapse
Police name a Palestinian killed in the collapse of a building in Tel Aviv yesterday as Ahd Marouf al-Hajj.
They had previously confirmed the death of the man, saying only that he was a 34-year-old resident of Bayt Rima in the northern West Bank.
— Judah Ari Gross
2 Israelis nabbed trying to bring in fireworks from West Bank
Two residents of northern Israel are arrested at Hizme checkpoint at the entrance to Jerusalem with dozens of fireworks in their vehicle.
The Border Police troops at the checkpoint make the discovery after the two raise suspicions, Army Radio says. A sapper is summoned to the site to inspect and secure the car.
CNN poll gives Trump an edge, while NBC finds solid Clinton lead
A new CNN/ORC poll puts Republican nominee Donald Trump narrowly ahead among likely voters by 45 percent to 43 percent, though its survey of registered voters gives his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton a three-point lead (44% to 41%).
An NBC/SurveyMonkey poll of registered voters, however, shows Clinton’s lead holding at six percentage points — 48% to 42% — in a head-to-head race. Her lead diminishes to four points — 41% to 37% — in polling that includes Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein.
Another survey, this one by The Washington Post looking at all 50 states, shows Clinton with a solid lead in terms of electoral college votes, and even strength in some traditional Republican strongholds.
— AFP/Times of Israel staff
Katz: High speed Tel Aviv-Jerusalem train due in 2018
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz says the new half-hour train link between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv will open in 2018.
The two cities, which account for the majority of Israel’s economic activity, are nearly 70 kilometers (44 miles) apart but only currently served by a 90-minute winding railway line on a route designed during the British mandate.
Road traffic can be badly congested at peak times, with the journey taking up to two hours.
The much-delayed new train service will shuttle passengers at up to 160 kilometers per hour from early 2018, Katz tells journalists during a tour of an underground tunnel along the new route.
Built under Israeli supervision in conjunction with Chinese, Italian and Russian companies, the new line is an important part of the “public transport revolution” under way in Israel, Katz says.
The service will also stop at Ben Gurion International Airport, 10 kilometers east of Tel Aviv. At peak times, there will be four trains an hour in both directions.
Israel Railways director Boaz Tzafrir says he expects 4,000 passengers during rush hour, 50,000 per day and more than 10 million a year on the new service.
PM in Netherlands: We stand together against terror
Israel and the Netherlands “stand together” against terrorism and tyranny, Netanyahu tells reporters in The Hague after a meeting with his Dutch counterpart.
“There is a fateful battle that is raging today in the entire world, between the forces of peace and the forces of terror, between the forces of democracy and the force of tyranny, between modernity and medievalism,” he says. “Israel and the Netherlands stand together for peace, democracy and modernity. We stand together against terror tyranny and medievalism.”
The PM also warns that jihadist groups in the Middle East are extending their reach into Europe, which could have an impact on the number of refugees on the Continent.
“Radical Islamist terrorist are spreading murder and misery across the Middle East and now deep into Europe as well,” he says. “If militant Islam is not stopped at the Middle East, the refugee crisis will only get worse.
As such, Netanyahu says, “all civilized nations must band together to defeat this scourge in Syria and Iraq. But if we don’t also band together to defeat militant Islam in other parts of the Middle East, more will die, and millions more will flee their homes. Where will they go? One place – Europe.”
TV poll: Yesh Atid would be Israel’s largest party
The center-right Yesh Atid would become Israel’s largest party for the first time if elections were held today, a new poll by Channel 2 television finds.
According to the survey conducted by Machon Midgam, Yesh Atid — headed by former finance minister Yair Lapid — would claim 24 Knesset seats, while Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party would take just 22 seats.
The Zionist Union — an amalgam of the once mighty Labor and Tzipi Livni’s Hatnuah party and currently the second-largest party — would win a paltry 13 seats, making it the fourth largest party along with the Joint (Arab) List. (The poll finds that Yesh Atid’s surge comes largely from Zionist Union, which would see half of its voters switch allegiance to Lapid.)
Zionist Union would also find itself trailing the national-religious Jewish Home, which would take 14 seats — a massive rise from its current eight.
Hawkish Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party would win 10 seats, up from its current six, while United Torah Judaism would claim seven seats (one more than it now has). Shas would lose a seat to take six, while Likud offshoot Kulanu would also win just six seats, losing almost half of its current 10. The left-wing Meretz would remain steady with five seats.
According to Channel 2, the poll sees Lapid as a realistic challenger to Netanyahu’s premiership, and shows his Likud party bleeding voters to both Yisrael Beytenu and Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home. The television does stress, however, that Lapid would struggle to form a viable coalition given the theoretical allocation of seats.
The margin of error and breakdown of respondents for the survey were not mentioned.
Dutch to help build Gaza gas pipeline, Netanyahu says
The Netherlands will help Israel boost energy and water supplies to Gaza including by building a gas pipeline, Netanyahu says after talks with his Dutch counterpart in the Netherlands.
“We want to help the population of Gaza and the first step is to improve the supply of energy and water… including laying a gas pipeline,” Netanyahu says, adding that his cabinet has already made a decision to lay the pipeline. “I appreciate your help in realizing this project,” he tells Rutte.
The Netherlands will also facilitate expert meetings between Dutch, Israeli and Palestinian officials focusing on energy and water, Rutte says at the joint press conference in The Hague.
“The aim of these meetings is to improve the Palestinian economy, but equally it provides for a more fertile ground for political negotiations between the two parties,” he adds. “I realize it’s not going to be easy, but we need to keep on moving.”
PM says he will honor court ruling on Shabbat work
Netanyahu says he will honor a High Court ruling that the Prime Minister doesn’t have the authority to stop Israel Railways staff working on Shabbat.
“I respect the court’s decisions,” Netanyahu says, according to Channel 2. “They clarify the order of things; the minister responsible is the labor minister, and he makes the necessary decisions about which work is essential.”
Only work deemed to be essential can be performed on Shabbat in Israel, which triggered a coalition crisis last week when Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz decided that 20 projects met this criteria.
Netanyahu nixed 17 of the 20 projects following an outcry from the religious parties in the coalition, and ruled that they would be carried out after Shabbat. This caused massive disruptions to passengers on Saturday night and Sunday, and led to a successful High Court petition from Meretz leader Zehava Galon.
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